Skip to main content

Diane Nzelu Prenatal Expert

Meet Diane Nzelu, our prenatal expert, committed to providing expectant mothers with exceptional care, tailored scans, and informed counselling for a healthy pregnancy journey.

Welcoming Ms Diane Nzelu

London Pregnancy Clinic portrait of Ms Diane Nzelu is a Consultant in Maternal – Fetal medicine.

Our newest Expert Team member at London Pregnancy Clinic



Discover the newest addition to our London Pregnancy Clinic team, Ms Diane Nzelu: Prenatal Expert. Learn about her expertise in prenatal care and how she’s set to enhance your pregnancy journey with compassionate, professional support.

At London Pregnancy Clinic, we’re thrilled to welcome Ms Diane Nzelu, a seasoned expert in prenatal care. Diane joins our team with a remarkable 13 years of expertise in fetal medicine. Her experience spans across extensive fetal scanning and handling medically intricate pregnancies. She’s always prioritised bespoke care, ensuring her advice and support are tailored to each expectant mother, actively involving them in their care journey.

Her academic pursuits are notable, with a keen focus on researching pregnancy-induced hypertension. This has led to numerous published works and presentations at both national and international fora. Beyond her UK-based work, Diane is actively engaged in global health projects, dedicated to advancing maternal health in various parts of the world.

Meet Ms Diane Nzelu: A Passion for Prenatal Care

Joining us with a wealth of knowledge and years of experience, Diane Nzelu: Prenatal Expert. She is a highly qualified prenatal specialist and her background in providing comprehensive care during pregnancy sets her apart. Diane’s passion for prenatal care stems from a deep commitment to ensuring the well-being of both mother and baby during this crucial time.

Enhancing Your Pregnancy Journey

Diane’s approach to prenatal care is both personal and professional. She understands that each pregnancy is unique and offers tailored advice and support to meet your individual needs. Whether it’s your first pregnancy or you’re adding to your family, Diane’s guidance will be invaluable in helping you navigate this special time with confidence and peace of mind.

A Commitment to Compassionate Care

At the heart of Diane’s practice is a strong commitment to compassionate care. She believes in creating a supportive and understanding environment for all her patients, ensuring that they feel heard, respected, and well cared for. Her empathetic approach not only enhances the quality of care but also strengthens the trust and relationship between practitioner and patient.


Join us in welcoming Diane Nzelu, Prenatal Expert, to our exceptional team at London Pregnancy Clinic. Ms. Nzelu brings a wealth of expertise and a heartfelt commitment to providing the best prenatal care. Whether you’re seeking a comprehensive 3rd Trimester Anomaly Scan, a detailed Week 20-25 Anomaly Scan, or a reassuring Wellbeing Scan, Diane is here to guide you with professional care and support. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience her unique approach to prenatal health. Schedule your appointment with Diane Nzelu today and embark on a pregnancy journey that’s not only medically sound but also emotionally supportive and enriching.


(1) “Validation of the BPro radial pulse waveform acquisition device in pregnancy and gestational hypertensive disorders” – Jakes, A.Wade, J.Vowles, Z.Seed, P. T.Shennan, A. H.Chappell, L. C. & Nzelu, D.14 Jun 2021, (E-pub ahead of print) In: BLOOD PRESSURE MONITORING. p. 380-384 5 p.

(2) Chronic hypertension: first-trimester blood pressure control and likelihood of severe hypertension, preeclampsia and small for gestational age – Nzelu, D.Dumitrascu-Biris, D.Nicolaides, K. H. & kametas, N. A.2 Jan 2018, (E-pub ahead of print) In: American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Latest Stories

Continue reading

Follicle Tracking Scan Explained

Graphic of Follicle Tracking Scan. An illustration of an egg in the uterus with sperm coming towards it.

Follicle tracking scan explained

Shaz Khojasteh is an advanced Specialist Sonographer in Fetal Medicine, Gynaecology and Fertility in Central London. Gynae Scans and Follicle Tracking Scans in London.

Miss Shaz Khojasteh Explains Essential Insights for Expectant Mothers.



Embark on a journey of understanding with our focused insight into Follicle Tracking Scans. This blog post explores three frequently asked questions, shedding light on the significance, process, and benefits of Follicle Tracking Scans. Ideal for expectant mothers seeking early reassurance in their pregnancy, these insights aim to demystify the process and enhance your prenatal experience. Join us as we delve into the world of Follicle Tracking Scans, explained by Shaz.

Pregnancy is a time of joy and anticipation, but it also brings a plethora of questions and concerns, especially for first-time mothers. A key component of early pregnancy monitoring is the follicle tracking scan. In this blog, we explain follicle tracking scans, addressing three common questions to help expectant mothers gain clarity and confidence in their early prenatal journey.

The Basics of Follicle Tracking

Follicle tracking scans are a type of ultrasound scan used primarily in the early stages of pregnancy and fertility treatments. These scans monitor the development of ovarian follicles, which are small sacs containing eggs. Understanding follicle development is crucial for determining the best time for conception and ensuring the health of the pregnancy in its initial stages.

Importance of Follicle Tracking in Early Pregnancy

Follicle tracking is essential for those undergoing fertility treatments or trying to conceive naturally. It helps in pinpointing the ovulation period, ensuring that the timing for conception is optimal. For early pregnancy, it reassures the health and development of the embryo, offering peace of mind to expectant mothers.

Your Experience with Follicle Tracking Scans

During a follicle tracking scan, you can expect a non-invasive and painless experience. The procedure involves an ultrasound, where a small probe is used to visualise the ovaries and the developing follicles. The scan provides real-time images, allowing the healthcare professional to assess and monitor follicle growth and health. You will be asked to use our facilities and have an empty bladder for your transvaginal ultrasound scan. During your appointment, you will be provided with a skirt cover to change into. There will be a private and separate area for you to get changed. If you have specific requirements, please ask, and our team will do their best to accommodate.

Your  frequently asked questions about Follicle Tracking Scan:

What is a Follicle? A follicle is a small, fluid-filled sac located in the ovaries of the female. It plays a critical role in female fertility and the reproductive process. Each follicle contains an immature egg, or oocyte, which matures within the follicle.

Is the Follicle Tracking Scan painful? The procedure involves a qualified sonographer gently inserting a slender transvaginal ultrasound probe to obtain clear images of your ovaries. While some women might feel a slight sensation of pressure or mild discomfort, it is generally not painful.

Occasionally, mild cramping or a sense of discomfort may occur during the scan, often related to having a full bladder. This is because the bladder, when full, may exert pressure on the uterus. Rest assured, any discomfort is usually brief and tends to ease off promptly after the completion of the scan.

What affects the number of follicles? The number of ovarian follicles in women is influenced by genetics, age, medical conditions, and lifestyle factors. Genetics play a key role, as women are born with a finite number of follicles that diminish over time. Age further reduces this number, especially after the mid-30s. Medical conditions like PCOS can alter follicle count, often increasing it, which impacts ovulation and fertility. Additionally, lifestyle choices such as smoking and obesity, along with environmental toxin exposure, can negatively affect follicle numbers, potentially leading to decreased ovarian reserves and earlier menopause.

  • Graphic by London Pregnancy Clinic featuring the text 'Expert Fertility Assessment' and 'Follicle Tracking - All you need to know...' against a soft, abstract background representing fertility.

    London Pregnancy Clinic Follicle Tracking Overview

    London Pregnancy Clinic Follicle Tracking Overview

  • Informative illustration by London Pregnancy Clinic explaining follicle tracking scans with labeled diagram of the ovary showcasing different stages from the follicle phase to the luteal phase.

    What is Follicle Tracking?

    What is Follicle Tracking?

  • Detailed explanation by London Pregnancy Clinic of what sonographers look for during a follicle tracking ultrasound scan, including the number, size, and maturity of follicles.

    Follicle Tracking Details

    Follicle Tracking Details

  • Educational content by London Pregnancy Clinic indicating the optimal timing for follicle tracking scans during the menstrual cycle and for IVF treatments, with a circular diagram of the menstrual cycle phases.

    Best Time for Follicle Tracking

    Best Time for Follicle Tracking

  • Graphic by London Pregnancy Clinic outlining the reasons for follicle tracking, noting its non-invasive nature and its role in identifying the best times for fertility treatments and natural conception.

    Purpose of Follicle Tracking

    Purpose of Follicle Tracking

  • Next steps guide by London Pregnancy Clinic after a follicle tracking scan, advising patients on discussing results with their clinicians and offering additional consultation services for a fee.

    Next Steps After Follicle Tracking

    Next Steps After Follicle Tracking

  • Ms. Shahrzad Khojasteh, Clinical Lead and Specialist Sonographer at London Pregnancy Clinic, smiling in professional attire with text highlighting services in fertility screening, including follicle tracking, endometrial lining, and pregnancy scans.

    Specialist Sonographer

    Specialist Sonographer


Understanding the role and process of Follicle Tracking Scans is a vital part of your pregnancy journey. These scans offer invaluable insights into the early stages of pregnancy, aiding in conception and providing reassurance. If you have more questions or need personalised advice, we invite you to contact the London Pregnancy Clinic for more information.

Latest Stories

Continue reading

Week 4 of Pregnancy

Graphic of Week 4 of pregnancy. An illustration of a zygote in the uterus.

Week 4 of your Pregnancy

Your Baby’s Remarkable Beginning



This blog post is part of a series that breaks down early pregnancy week by week. Today we will be talking about Week 4 of your pregnancy journey! Within this article, we’ll delve into the astonishing advancements occurring during this initial phase of pregnancy. Although your baby remains incredibly minuscule, measuring at no more than 1 millimeter (similar to a poppy seed), a realm of growth and transformation is already well underway.

Key Concepts: Gestational Weeks vs. Post-Conception Weeks

Understanding the difference between gestational weeks and post-conception weeks is crucial for accurately tracking the progress of your pregnancy.

Gestational Weeks: Gestational age refers to the age of the pregnancy and is measured from the first day of the mother’s last menstrual period (LMP). This is the standard method used by healthcare providers to track pregnancy. For example, at 4 weeks gestation, the embryo is about 2 weeks post-conception. Gestational age is crucial for determining the due date and monitoring the baby’s development.

Post-Conception Weeks: Post-conception age, also known as embryonic age, is measured from the time of conception. It provides a more precise timeline of the baby’s development. For instance, at 4 weeks post-conception, the embryo is undergoing significant developments, such as the formation of the placenta and the beginning of the amniotic sac.

Pregnancy Checklist at 4 Weeks

While it’s still early in your pregnancy, there are some important steps you can take:

  • During the initial 4 weeks of pregnancy, you may not experience noticeable symptoms. To verify your pregnancy, consider taking a pregnancy test.
  • Once you’ve confirmed your pregnancy you may think about your first prenatal visit with your doctor, even though it may not occur for another couple of weeks. With us, this would be our Viability/Dating Scan. During this visit, our specialists, like Miss Shaz Khojasteh, will check for single/multiple pregnancies, date the pregnancy and check main structures of the gestational sac. 
  • Focus on adopting healthy diet and lifestyle habits. Say goodbye to smoking and alcohol, opt for nutritious foods, and stay well-hydrated.
  • The NHS provides valuable recommendations for expectant mothers, including considering the importance of taking supplements during pregnancy. Additionally, it’s essential to recognise how emotional changes that often accompany pregnancy can impact your relationships.

Developmental Milestones: Week 4

By Week 4, your baby develops from being a single-cell zygote to a blastocyst. Rapid cell division shapes the future. At this stage, your embryo completes its journey from the fallopian tube to the uterus, burrowing into the uterine lining. Half becomes your future child, and the other forms the placenta—a vital nutrient carrier.

The amniotic sac, often called the “bag of waters,” forms around the embryo, along with the yolk sac, important for your baby’s digestive system.

Your embryo now consists of three unique cell layers:

  • The endoderm—nurturing your baby’s digestive system, liver, and lungs.
  • The mesoderm—laying the foundation for your baby’s heart, sex organs, bones, kidneys, and muscles.
  • The ectoderm—shaping your baby’s nervous system, hair, eyes, and outer skin layer.

What is seen on the Ultrasound: Week 4?

One of the common queries we receive at the London Pregnancy Clinic is whether having an ultrasound at 4 weeks gestation is a requirement. At this stage, around the fourth week of pregnancy, significant developments are occurring. The blastocyst is in the process of dividing into an embryo and placenta. However, it’s crucial to understand that an ultrasound of your uterus during this early stage will typically reveal what appears to be a minuscule dot known as the gestational sac, and it’s important to note that a heartbeat is not typically detectable at this early point of development. Detecting a more advanced pregnancy may require waiting until a later stage.

Thinking ahead: Week 4?

The next steps in your pregnancy journey involve preparing for your first ultrasound appointment. It’s completely normal to eagerly anticipate your first ultrasound, but it’s essential to be aware that at 4 weeks of gestation, the gestational sac is typically too small to be easily visible on the scan. For a clearer image of your pregnancy, it is generally advisable to wait until around 5 weeks or later, when the development progresses. However, it’s worth noting that in certain cases, skilled sonographers with extensive experience may be able to discern subtle indications of pregnancy by closely observing changes in the uterine lining. You can use our booking system to calculate your optimal scan date range by entering your Last Menstrual Period(LMP) HERE.


Week 4 of your pregnancy signifies the remarkable commencement of your baby’s journey. While ultrasound visuals may not reveal much at this early stage, rest assured that a realm of development is quietly unfolding within your body. Join us as we look forward to exploring the upcoming stages of your pregnancy journey, complete with the changes and milestones that await.

It’s crucial to remember that every pregnancy is unique. Therefore, we recommend consulting your healthcare provider for tailored guidance and attentive care during this special period. Our team is here to provide support throughout your exciting pregnancy journey!

Once again, heartfelt congratulations on your pregnancy. Stay tuned for further updates as we continue to monitor your baby’s week-by-week growth.

Latest Stories

Continue reading

10 Week Pregnancy Scan Explained

Graphic of 10 week Scan. An illustration of a mother thinking about the normal development of her baby.

The 10-Week Scan

Answering your questions about the Earliest Anomaly Scan At 10 Weeks



This blog post discusses the benefits of the 10-week scan, how it is done, and frequently asked questions. It also highlights that the 10-week scan is the best scan to combine with Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT), which is a blood test that can be done at 10 weeks to screen for common chromosomal abnormalities. At the London Pregnancy Clinic, We have a unique and individual approach in that we do not ‘leave any stone unturned’ – we provide the most comprehensive assessment of the development of your baby possible at each stage of pregnancy.

Understanding the 10-week Scan:

Typically, the 10-week scan is performed using either a transabdominal or transvaginal ultrasound. A skilled sonographer will place a transducer on your abdomen or within your vagina. This transducer emits sound waves into the uterus, bouncing off the fetus to create a real-time image on the ultrasound screen. The entire procedure generally lasts between 15 to 30 minutes.

Comprehensive Screening:  

In the realm of prenatal care, knowledge is power. The 10-week pregnancy scan, often regarded as the earliest anomaly scan, holds a special place in the hearts of expecting parents. It’s an opportunity to unveil critical insights into your baby’s development, offering early detection of potential fetal anomalies and precise pregnancy dating. This pivotal examination, conducted through either a transabdominal or transvaginal ultrasound, is an indispensable tool in ensuring a smooth and informed journey towards parenthood.

Benefits of the 10-week Scan:  

The advantages of the 10-week scan are numerous and profound:

Early Detection of Fetal Abnormalities: At the 10-week mark, this scan can identify up to 10 major fetal anomalies, providing parents with vital information to make informed choices about their pregnancy.

Accurate Pregnancy Dating: Precise dating of the pregnancy aids parents in planning for their baby’s arrival and arranging future prenatal appointments with confidence.

Reassurance for Parents: Pregnancy is a time of great joy but can also bring anxiety. The 10-week scan offers peace of mind, assuring parents that their pregnancy is progressing as expected.

Optimal Pairing with NIPT: When combined with NIPT, the 10-week scan offers the most accurate information on the baby’s health. NIPT, a blood test conducted at 10 weeks, screens for common chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome, trisomy 13, and trisomy 18, complementing the 10-week scan perfectly.


Many pregnant women in the UK are anxious about the health of their babies in the early weeks of pregnancy. This may be due to a number of factors, including:

  • Previous miscarriage
  • IVF pregnancy
  • Unintentional alcohol consumption
  • Missed doses of folic acid
  • Use of certain medications
  • Severe morning sickness
  • Bleeding
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Sudden loss of pregnancy symptoms

If you are concerned about any of these issues or others, our 10-week scan is the perfect solution for you. It is designed to provide early reassurance for expectant parents.

The 10-week scan is also ideal for any pregnant woman who wishes to have NIPT at the earliest possible stage. Many parents choose to screen for the risk of Down syndrome in the first trimester. This is now possible with a non-invasive blood test at 10 weeks. However, the majority of fetal abnormalities are structural (physical), and some of these may be more severe than Down syndrome.

Unfortunately, NIPT will miss all structural abnormalities. That is why we take the opportunity to conduct an early screening of the baby’s structures to rule out 10 major structural abnormalities before performing NIPT.

Should I Delay My NIPT until 12-14 Weeks, Post NHS NT Scan?

Opting to delay your NIPT until after your NHS (National Health Service) Nuchal Translucency (NT) scan at 12-14 weeks is an approach that is becoming increasingly outdated. We firmly believe that the most effective method is to perform both the dating scan at 10 weeks and the NIPT at 10-11 weeks. This approach offers several advantages, particularly regarding early testing.

Admittedly, some fetal structures and organs may not be fully visualized at the 10-week mark, and certain structural anomalies may remain undiagnosed due to the fetus’s ongoing development. However, the benefits of conducting both tests as early as technically feasible outweigh these limitations.

  • IVF pregnancy
  • Unintentional alcohol consumption
  • Missed doses of folic acid
  • Use of certain medications
  • Severe morning sickness
  • Bleeding
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Sudden loss of pregnancy symptoms

If you are concerned about any of these issues or others, our 10-week scan is the perfect solution for you. It is designed to provide early reassurance for expectant parents.

The 10-week scan is also ideal for any pregnant woman who wishes to have NIPT at the earliest possible stage. Many parents choose to screen for the risk of Down syndrome in the first trimester. This is now possible with a non-invasive blood test at 10 weeks. However, the majority of fetal abnormalities are structural (physical), and some of these may be more severe than Down syndrome.

Unfortunately, NIPT will miss all structural abnormalities. That is why we take the opportunity to conduct an early screening of the baby’s structures to rule out 10 major structural abnormalities before performing NIPT.

Your Frequently Asked Questions About 10-week Scan

Do I need a full bladder for the 10-week scan? No, a full bladder is not necessary for the 10-week scan.

What sets the 10-week scan apart from the nuchal translucency scan? In comparison to the nuchal translucency scan, the 10-week scan is more comprehensive. While both can measure the fluid at the back of the baby’s neck, the 10-week scan extends its scope to assess various aspects of the baby’s development, including the heart, brain, and spine.

Is the 10-week scan safe? Yes, the 10-week scan is a safe and well-established procedure. Ultrasound technology has been a trusted method for safely imaging babies in the womb for many years.


If you’re considering delaying your first scan or wish to explore further options, the London Pregnancy Clinic provides innovative Early Ultrasound Screenings. These include the Early Fetal Scan, conducted between 12 and 16 weeks, which can exclude more than one hundred serious anomalies. Moreover, our Early Fetal Echocardiography is designed to identify up to 80% of detectable severe fetal heart defects. We highly recommend this scan for all babies with increased nuchal translucency (NT) measurements, fetal anomalies, or other unusual findings detected at the 11-13 week scan.

In conclusion, the 10-week pregnancy scan is an essential early step in ensuring the health and well-being of your growing family. It empowers parents with valuable insights and peace of mind, setting the stage for a smooth journey into parenthood. And remember, at the London Pregnancy Clinic, we offer a range of pioneering early ultrasound screenings to cater to your specific needs, ensuring the best possible care for your precious one.

Book NIPT + Scan from £490

Latest Stories

Continue reading

Understanding NT’s 95th Percentile

Graphic of understanding NT's 95th Percentile. A baby on a timeline with abstract representations of measuring tools.

Understanding NT’s 95th Percentile:

Nuchal Translucency (NT) Thickness Measurements in the 1st Trimester and What to Do if NT is Increased?



Nuchal Translucency (NT), developed over 30 years ago in the early 1990s, remains a pivotal screening marker for evaluating early fetal well-being. Widely used, it screens for chromosomal and genetic conditions, as well as heart defects and other structural anomalies in the developing fetus. To get an understanding of NT’s 95th percentile we will discuss the importance of NT measurements, variations in cutoff values, and what to do if your baby’s NT measurement falls above the 95th centile but below the 3.5mm threshold.

The Significance of Nuchal Translucency Measurements:

NT refers to measuring the clear fluid space at the back of the baby’s neck during an ultrasound scan. According to NHS guidelines, it is measured between the 11th and 14th weeks of gestation. Presently, it is a cornerstone of the NHS Chromosomal Syndromes Screening Program conducted through Combined Screening Testing (CST). This program relies on the enduring significance of NT to assess the risk of chromosomal syndromes in the first trimester of pregnancy. Elevated NT measurements can indicate potential chromosomal abnormalities such as trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) and genetic conditions like Noonan syndrome, as well as heart defects and other structural anomalies. However, there is a significant level of uncertainty regarding what constitutes an abnormal NT measurement.

Variations in Cutoff Values:

One of the challenges with NT measurements is determining what constitutes an abnormal measurement. There is considerable variation in the cutoff values used by different research papers and guidelines. The majority of research studies and international society guidelines use the 95th centile as the threshold for abnormal NT measurements. This means that if your baby’s NT measurement falls below the 95th centile, it is considered normal. However, the NHS guidelines use a more conservative cutoff of 3.5mm. This 3.5mm cutoff is equivalent to the 99th percentile, representing a higher threshold for what is considered abnormal by NHS.

The Importance of Gestational Age:

It’s crucial to understand that the 95th centile for NT measurements varies with gestational age. Younger fetuses at 11 weeks tend to have naturally smaller NT measurements compared to those closer to 14 weeks. Therefore, determining whether your baby’s NT measurement is normal or not depends on both the absolute measurement and the gestational age.

Understanding NT’s 95th Percentile Measurements:

We understand that expectant parents might find it challenging to locate validated data concerning the 95th centile cutoff for their baby, as such data is not readily accessible online. To provide support, we have developed an NT thickness reference table based on highly esteemed international data from the study conducted by Wright et al in 20081. Additionally, we have cross-referenced data on normal NT measurements for the 10-11-week gestational period from Grande et al.’s publication in 20142, which closely aligns with Wright’s findings. Consequently, we have assembled a table that delineates the limit of an increased NT (95 centile) for each week from the 10th to the 14th week, utilising gestational age data recommended by the British Medical Ultrasound Society (2009)3.

Gestational Weeks 10+0 10+1 10+2 10+3 10+4 10+5 10+6 11+0 11+1 11+2 11+3 11+4 11+5 11+6 12+0 12+1 12+2 12+3 12+4 12+5 12+6 13+0 13+1 13+2 13+3 13+4 13+5 13+6 14+0 14+1
NT 95th centile mm 2.3 2.3 2.4 2.4 2.4 2.4 2.3 2.2 2.2 2.2 2.2 2.2 2.2 2.2 2.3 2.3 2.4 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.6 2.7 2.7 2.7 2.8 2.8 2.8 2.8 2.8 2.8

Our chart represents the distribution of increased NT measurements (> 95th centile) in relation to the gestational age. It’s important to note that, at every stage of gestation, normal NT measurements remain below 2.8 mm. Therefore, any NT measurement equal to or greater than 2.8 mm is considered elevated.

What occurs when there is a significant elevation in NT measurements? 

If NT thickness is 3.5mm or more (>99th centile) you will be referred to the fetal medicine unit (FMU) of your NHS hospital or FMU of a large regional NHS trust, where doctors will scan your baby to exclude structural anomalies associated with increased NT and offer further tests (CVS or NIPT). They will also offer fetal echocardiography at 16-20 weeks to exclude associated CHD.

What to Do if NT Measurement is Above the 95th Centile but Below 3.5mm (99th centile)?

The NHS adopts a conservative approach and does not acknowledge the 95th centile raised NT cutoff. Consequently, additional scans and tests are not scheduled for these babies before the routine 20-week anomaly scan conducted by the NHS. However, when the NT measurement surpasses the 95th percentile, it is advisable to proceed with further testing. In such instances, considering Non-invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) and an Early Fetal Anomaly Scan (Early Fetal Scan) are recommended.

SMART TEST – A Comprehensive Screening Option

For babies with elevated NT (between 95-99th centile), we have introduced the SMART TEST, which stands as the most advanced early reassurance package available. It comprises two expert early anomaly scans, Early Fetal Echocardiography, and the most comprehensive state-of-the-art NIPT panel. The SMART TEST can effectively rule out the majority of severe congenital heart defects (CHDs) and other structural anomalies associated with elevated NT, and reduce the probability of your baby being affected by chromosomal, genetic, or structural abnormalities.

While the SMART TEST is expensive, it is the most comprehensive early reassurance package available in the UK. For parents unable to afford the SMART TEST, there is a more affordable option of the Early Fetal Scan and an extended Panorama Test. The Early Fetal Scan screens for CHDs, but does not include a detailed examination of the fetal heart. You can further upgrade the scan and Panorama Test NIPT package to include eECHO.

If you have received concerning news about your baby’s increased nuchal translucency, we strongly recommend discussing the SMART TEST with one of our specialists.


Nuchal translucency measurements play a crucial role in assessing fetal well-being during the first trimester of pregnancy. Understanding the variations in cutoff values, gestational age, and available screening options is essential for making informed decisions if your baby’s NT measurement falls above the 95th centile but below the 3.5mm NHS threshold (99th centile). The SMART TEST, with its comprehensive NIPT panel and early fetal echocardiography, offers a valuable non-invasive screening option for parents seeking more information about their baby’s health. We are committed to offering you the best possible care, and you are always welcome to have a personal consultation with us to decide on the most suitable approach based on your individual circumstances.

Latest Stories

Continue reading

Possibility of Early Spina Bifida Diagnosis from 10 Weeks.

Graphic of Early Spina Bifida Diagnosis. A baby that is getting its spine scanned at 10 weeks.

Spina Bifida Early Diagnosis from 10 Weeks of Pregnancy

DR Fred Ushakov Headshot. London Pregnancy Clinic Medical Director. Specialist in Fetal Medicine & Obstetrical Ultrasound.

An Interview with Dr. Fred Ushakov



In honour of UK Spina Bifida Awareness Week, Dr. Ushakov, Founder and Managing Director of London Pregnancy Clinic, discusses the possibilities of early diagnosis of spina bifida. He is an internationally renowned expert in fetal medicine, with a primary focus on fetal spina bifida and is also currently affiliated with FMU UCLH. In recognition of UK Spina Bifida Awareness Week, we have had the privilege of asking Dr. Ushakov several vital questions about spina bifida.

Dr. Ushakov was interviewed by, our Specialist Sonographer in Fetal Medicine, Gynaecology & Fertility, Ms Shaz Khojasteh.

What sparked your interest in spina bifida?  

“In 1980, as a young obstetrician heavily involved in attending deliveries and particularly interested in ultrasound technology, I performed a scan on a young pregnant woman. I noticed something unusual about the baby’s brain, although I couldn’t quite discern the exact issue. Subsequently, I was present at her delivery, and to my surprise, the baby was born with spina bifida. This experience was truly shocking. It occurred over 35 years ago during the early stages of ultrasound technology when both knowledge and technology were limited.”

What actions did you take next?

“After that shocking experience, I became genuinely intrigued by effectively detecting spina bifida. I dedicated significant effort to mastering scanning techniques for identifying spina bifida in babies. Over time, I evolved into an expert in this field, with a particular focus on spotting it as early as 10 weeks into the pregnancy. And naturally, I made it a point to share this knowledge with my colleagues, advocating for early spina bifida detection.”

How many babies with spina bifida have you encountered?

“I’ve seen hundreds of fetuses with spina bifida during my career. It’s become a routine part of my work – conducting early scans to detect spina bifida and performing expert scans for babies already diagnosed with this condition. Spina bifida is actually relatively common. In the UK, it’s estimated that around 1 in every 1,000 pregnancies is affected by spina bifida. Even though it might not be as well-known as some other conditions, its effects on those who have it can be quite substantial. This is why early detection and awareness are so important.”

Why is spina bifida so important?

“Open spina bifida holds immense significance due to its prevalence as a major fetal structural defect. It adversely affects essential bodily functions, such as bowel and bladder control. Walking becomes a challenge for most babies born with open spina bifida, and some may also exhibit brain abnormalities. While treatments can enhance outcomes, a complete cure remains elusive. Many babies survive, but their lives are profoundly impacted by long-lasting disabilities. In essence, it’s a severe condition with enduring consequences.”

What do you consider the main issue with spina bifida?

“The primary concern regarding spina bifida, from my perspective, is the alarming lack of awareness. This lack of awareness extends not only to patients but also to primary healthcare providers. From my experience, many pregnant women take folic acid supplements without fully grasping their significance. It’s imperative to raise awareness and educate both the general public and healthcare professionals about this condition, its risk factors, and the crucial role of folic acid supplementation during pregnancy and early first-trimester spina bifida screening. Unlike the widely recognized Down’s syndrome, spina bifida remains relatively obscure. This is a significant concern because, for some babies with spina bifida, the potential outcomes can be even more challenging than those for Down’s syndrome.”

Fred, could you clarify why it’s essential to start taking folic acid immediately upon discovering pregnancy?

“Yes, immediate folic acid supplementation upon discovering pregnancy is of paramount importance. Neural tube formation is an early pregnancy event, usually concluding by the end of the 6th gestational week, approximately 28 days after conception. In babies with spina bifida, the neural tube fails to close correctly, leading to spinal cord and spine bone issues. This anomaly develops extremely early when the baby is less than 1 cm in size and has just initiated its heartbeat.

Folic acid plays a pivotal role during the critical period before and during the first six weeks of pregnancy when the baby’s spine is forming. In practical terms, most people discover their pregnancy around 4 weeks after conception, and by that point, they are already 4 weeks into the pregnancy. This leaves just two weeks during which folic acid can exert its most significant impact. Taking early action is the key to providing essential support for your baby’s neural tube development and minimizing the risk of spina bifida.”

Let’s delve into early Spina Bifida diagnosis during pregnancy. When can you identify this condition?

“With my level of expertise and the use of advanced 3D ultrasound scanners (Fig 1), I can diagnose the majority, probably over 90%, of open spina bifida as early as 10 weeks into the pregnancy. To put it differently, personally missing a diagnosis of spina bifida at that stage would be a great disappointment to me, and I would be highly motivated to conduct a thorough investigation into why such a diagnosis was missed. 

  • 3D Ultrasound GIF of baby at 10 week. Image by London Pregnancy Clinic - for educational purpose.

    Fig 1 – 3D ultrasound image of the baby at 10 weeks: All main structures are visible
  • It’s important to note that achieving a 100% accuracy rate in diagnosing spina bifida through ultrasound is a challenge. There can be significant variations in the presentation of spina bifida, and in some rare cases, the anomaly may go undiagnosed until delivery. While early detection is highly valuable, there are instances where the condition’s subtleties make it difficult to diagnose definitively with ultrasound.”

How can you diagnose spina bifida so early? Are you inspecting the baby’s spine?

“No, actually, it’s quite challenging to directly visualize spinal abnormalities at this early stage. What I’m primarily focused on is the fetal head and brain (Fig 2). In cases of open spina bifida, there’s a distinct phenomenon at play. There is a leakage of fluid from the brain through the hole in the spine, and this leakage creates a very specific brain anomaly known as Chiari 2 malformation. I’m essentially searching for the earliest evidence of this phenomenon in the ultrasound images. It’s a highly specific indicator – when this particular brain anomaly is present, it’s a strong indication that the baby has spina bifida.

Certainly, at 10 weeks, I also examine the fetal spine. The spine is not yet ossified, so it appears as dark lines running along the baby’s back, and often I can even discern individual vertebrae as bright dots (Fig 3). This level of detail means that very severe spinal deformities can be visible. Sometimes, spina bifida can manifest as a small bubble on the baby’s back at this early stage (Fig 4).”

  • Ultrasound GIF of baby's brain at 10 weeks. Image by London Pregnancy Clinic - for educational purpose.

    Fig 2 – Normal brain at 10 weeks: this baby has no spina bifida
  • Ultrasound GIF of baby's spine at 10 weeks. Image by London Pregnancy Clinic - for educational purpose.

    Fig 3 – Baby’s spine at 10 weeks: no deformities
  • Ultrasound GIF of baby with spina bifida at 11 weeks. Spina bifida cystica is seen at the bottom of the spine. Image by London Pregnancy Clinic - for educational purpose.

    Fig 4 – Baby with spina bifida at 10-11 weeks: spina bifida marked by the circle

Can other professionals detect spina bifida early?

“Yes, there are indeed many research studies indicating the possibility of early detection. One of the most significant research efforts comes from King’s College Hospital in London. Sonographers at this hospital have scanned over 100,000 babies at 11-13 weeks of pregnancy and were able to detect more than half of the fetuses with spina bifida. This achievement is truly impressive, although it’s important to note that it may not be applicable to all NHS trusts. King’s College Hospital has a dedicated unit, established protocols, and a comprehensive training program. Only a handful of other hospitals across the UK, including UCLH that I work for, have similar protocols in place.”

What is the situation like in an average NHS hospital?

“In NHS hospitals, there is a screening ultrasound program called the anomaly scan, which is typically conducted at 19-20 weeks into the pregnancy. During this scan, sonographers check for spina bifida among other anomalies.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a routine first-trimester screening for spina bifida, and the majority of cases are detected during the second trimester. In a 2019 survey of ultrasound units performing scans in the first trimester (11-13 weeks) in England, it was found that only 16% of them included a check of the fetal spine in their protocols.”

Tell us about the “crash sign” and its significance.

“Yes, indeed. Many research groups have proposed various methods for detecting spina bifida in the first trimester. In our case, we’ve come up with a marker that represents the ultrasound appearance of Chiari 2 malformation in the early fetal brain. It’s pretty obvious when you have a top-notch ultrasound scanner.

Now, why ‘CRASH’? We actually have a video up on YouTube that demonstrates it, and once you watch it, the name will make perfect sense.”

Any advice for patients seeking early spina bifida ruling out?

“If you’re keen to know early on, I’d suggest considering booking a 10 Week Scan with a professional having a special interest in this area. For those with previous pregnancies affected by spina bifida, arranging a 10 Week Scan at Fetal Medicine Unit at UCLH with a referral from your primary NHS care provider is an excellent choice. Alternatively, you can book a 10 Week Scan privately at London Pregnancy Clinic. At our clinic, we can combine this scan with non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT). Please inform our admin staff about your worries, and we will arrange a proper scan for your baby.

If you prefer to stick with NHS services, ask your sonographer during the 11-13 weeks scan if they’re actively screening for spina bifida. Some hospitals in London may have established protocols for this. However, if your NHS provider doesn’t routinely check for spina bifida (which is the case for most hospitals), you might want to consider an early anomaly scan (Early Fetal Scan) at 13-16 weeks through a private provider. For those going the private scan route, it’s a good idea to check if the clinic screens for spina bifida at early stages. Advanced private ultrasound clinics are typically well-equipped, and their staff may have special training in fetal medicine.

Please note that the majority of sonographer-run clinics that provide NIPT or perform non-medical gender scans do not screen for spina bifida.”

It seems like you prefer screening for spina bifida at 10 weeks rather than at the time of the standard NHS scan around 12 weeks. Is that accurate, and could you tell us why?

“Yes, you’ve got it right. In the past, I used to advocate for spina bifida screening during the conventional nuchal translucency scan at around 12-13 weeks. But with the introduction of NIPT, which can be done as early as 10 weeks, I’ve started scanning for spina bifida even before the blood test. At 10 weeks, the little ones are really tiny, measuring less than 1.5 inches (around 35 mm).

Interestingly, with the help of state-of-the-art ultrasound technology (and we’re lucky to use the most advanced machines), many fetal structures are surprisingly easier to examine at 10 weeks compared to 12 weeks. The brain and spine, in particular, stand out as more visible structures.

I won’t bore you with all the technical stuff, but it’s somewhat paradoxical that I feel that an early screening at 10 weeks is actually probably more effective. Plus, it’s a relief for parents who are understandably anxious and want reassurance as soon as possible. But it’s essential to recognize that this type of screening demands a high level of expertise and top-notch ultrasound technology to be done effectively.”

Can other professionals detect spina bifida early?

“Yes, indeed. There are internationally renowned groups in Melbourne, Nice, and Berlin, among others, who also have experience in diagnosing spina bifida before the 11th week of pregnancy. At present, our joined expertise is largely based on anecdotal cases. This is because the incidence of spina bifida is relatively rare, occurring at a rate of 1 in 1,000 pregnancies. To establish statistically significant numbers and determine the detection rate of a 10-week scan, one would need to scan thousands and thousands of babies.”

What is the SMART TEST, and does it include screening for spina bifida?

“The SMART TEST is an innovative concept in prenatal care developed and offered by the London Pregnancy Clinic. It combines extended NIPT with expert ultrasound. The SMART TEST is unique in that it covers a wide range of structural anomalies, chromosomal conditions, and genetic diseases, and it can do so as early as 10 weeks into the pregnancy.

A primary target of the SMART TEST is indeed the earliest possible screening for spina bifida. The test incorporates advanced 2D and 3D ultrasound technology to thoroughly examine the fetal brain and spine at a stage when the baby has just transitioned from an embryo to a fetus. This comprehensive approach ensures early detection and peace of mind for expectant parents.”

Why do you believe that early detection of spina bifida is so crucial? After all, the condition can be diagnosed by the NHS anomaly scan at 20 weeks.

“I’m a strong advocate for early detection of spina bifida, and let me explain why. Spina bifida is a highly serious structural anomaly associated with severe disabilities. While we’ve made significant progress with in-utero surgical treatments, it’s important to understand that these treatments don’t cure the condition.

Moreover, it’s essential to highlight the significance of the surgical aspect. At UCLH, I’m part of the Fetal Surgery for Spina Bifida team, which is led by Professor Jan Deprest, an internationally renowned expert in fetal surgery. Our centre is the sole one in the UK commissioned by the NHS to provide this cutting-edge treatment. In my role, I conduct scans on the baby before and after the surgery. I take great care to evaluate the spinal lesion, perform a thorough examination of the baby’s brain, and perform a comprehensive top-to-toe scan of the entire baby. I’ve had the privilege of scanning hundreds of babies with spina bifida before and after surgery, contributing to their care.

Performing surgery on a baby with spina bifida while they’re still in the mother’s womb is an incredible feat. This complex procedure requires a skilled international team of doctors and medical professionals from the UK and Belgium. The delicate balance of providing life-changing treatment for the baby while ensuring the safety of both the baby and the mother is a remarkable achievement in fetal medicine.

However, almost half of mothers are not eligible for this ground-breaking surgical treatment, often due to the severity of the baby’s condition or additional fetal problems. For these parents, making difficult decisions about the pregnancy becomes a reality, often after 20 weeks. Even for parents eligible for surgery, the journey is challenging. They go through numerous tests, counselling, and procedures in a short time, adding to the stress.

All of this can be alleviated with early diagnosis. Early detection provides parents with the time and information they need to make informed decisions. For the most severe cases of spina bifida that are not operable, early detection helps parents understand their options from the start of the pregnancy. That’s why I advocate for screening for spina bifida as early as 10 weeks or at least at 12 weeks.”

Fred, as a conclusion, what advice or suggestions would you like to offer to future parents?

“If you are in the planning stages of pregnancy, consider starting to take folic acid supplements. Folic acid is most effective when taken before conception and during the first few weeks of pregnancy when the baby’s spine is forming. This simple step can contribute to the healthy development of your baby and reduce the risk of spina bifida.

Additionally, I’d like to emphasize the importance of early screening for spina bifida, which can now be done as early as 10 weeks into the pregnancy. This can provide you with valuable information, peace of mind, and ample time to make informed decisions about your baby’s health. If you have concerns or a history of spina bifida in your family, consider the SMART TEST at the London Pregnancy Clinic. It’s a comprehensive approach that combines NIPT and advanced ultrasound technology to screen for a wide range of conditions, including spina bifida.

Remember that knowledge is power. Being informed and seeking early detection can make a significant difference in the journey of your pregnancy. Stay well-informed, ask questions, and don’t hesitate to seek expert guidance. Your baby’s health is our priority, and we are here to help you every step of the way.”


(1) Karim, J., Pandya, P., McHugh, A. and Papageorghiou, A.T. (2019). OC23.06: Significant variation in practice for first trimester anatomy assessment: results from a nationwide survey. Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology, 54(S1), pp.60–61.

(2) Ushakov, F., Sacco, A., Andreeva, E., Tudorache, S., Everett, T., David, A.L. and Pandya, P.P. (2019). Crash sign: new first-trimester sonographic marker of spina bifida. Ultrasound in obstetrics & gynecology : the official journal of the International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology, [online] 54(6), pp.740–745.

(3) University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. (n.d.). Management of Fetal Spina Bifida. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Oct. 2023].

(4) Syngelaki, A., Hammami, A., Bower, S., Zidere, V., Akolekar, R. and Nicolaides, K.H. (2019). Diagnosis of fetal non‐chromosomal abnormalities on routine ultrasound examination at 11–13 weeks’ gestation. Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology, 54(4), pp.468–476.

(5) Rolnik, D.L., Wertaschnigg, D., Benoit, B. and Meagher, S. (2020). Sonographic detection of fetal abnormalities before 11 weeks of gestation. Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology, 55(5), pp.565–574.

Latest Stories

Continue reading

Spina Bifida Awareness Week

Graphic of Spina Bifida Awareness Week. A baby that is getting its spine scanned at 10 weeks.

Spina Bifida Awareness Week:

What is it? and how we can screen for it?



This week is Spina Bifida Awareness Week, a time to shine a light on this important condition. We look at what Spina Bifida is, how it can be detected and charities that spread awareness about it.

Comprehensive Screening:  

From the 16th to the 22nd of October, we shine a light on Spina Bifida Awareness Week. But first, let’s break it down. What exactly is spina bifida? It’s a condition where the spine doesn’t fully develop in the womb. It occurs when the spine and spinal cord fail to develop properly in the womb, resulting in a gap in the spine. This incomplete development can lead to both physical and intellectual challenges.

A surprising fact? As many as 10% of people might have a milder form of spina bifida. Most aren’t even aware of it. On the more severe end of the spectrum, open spina bifida impacts about 700 babies in the UK every year.

Now, here’s the uplifting part. Taking folic acid during the early stages of pregnancy can significantly reduce the risk of a baby developing spina bifida. However, many women still don’t know about this simple preventative measure. It’s essential for healthcare providers to share this knowledge.

Early Detection Makes a Difference! 

At our clinic, we’re proud to offer a specialised Ten-week Anomaly Scan. This scan is designed to detect signs of spina bifida at a very early stage. By identifying it early, families can make informed decisions and medical professionals can provide the best care options. Early detection can dramatically improve outcomes for affected pregnancies. Surgeons from UCLH and GOSH carried out the first procedure on babies in the womb in the UK back in 2018. This international team received their training at UZ Leuven1

While many might be more familiar with conditions like Down Syndrome, it’s vital to bring spina bifida to the forefront as well. Its prevalence is notable, and with the right measures like early detection and folic acid intake, we can make a difference.

Join Our Mission in Boosting Awareness: 

Knowledge is power. By understanding spina bifida, its risks, and the preventive steps, we can safeguard future generations. Let’s raise the bar of awareness together by educating ourselves and supporting charities like Shine. 

Shine Charity is a UK-based charity that supports people with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. The charity’s vision is a society where all those affected by spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus are empowered and enabled. Shine’s mission is to make a positive difference to the lives of people affected by these conditions.

Shine’s goals for 2022-2027 include:

  • Enabling babies and children with spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus to achieve their potential
  • Empowering young people with these conditions
  • Ensuring that adults with these conditions have the choices and opportunities to live healthy and independent lives

Watch the explainer video on the 10 week scan:

Latest Stories

Continue reading

NIPT and Scan: Why We Champion This Dual Approach

Graphic of a baby footprint in a heart with DNA strand on either side.

NIPT and Scan Approach: Why We Champion This Screening Method at London Pregnancy Clinic



At the London Pregnancy Clinic, we’re dedicated to providing expectant mothers with advanced screening options and the highest level of care. We firmly recommend combining Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) and Ultrasound screening. Let’s explore why we endorse NIPT and Scan approach and how it benefits our patients.

Why Choose Both NIPT and scan?

Comprehensive Screening:  

Ultrasound visually assesses the baby’s anatomy, checking for physical abnormalities and measuring growth. NIPT, known by brand names like Natera’s Panorama AI or Eurofins’ PrenatalSafe, examines fetal DNA in the mother’s bloodstream, providing insights into potential chromosomal abnormalities like Down’s Syndrome, Edwards syndrome, and Patau syndrome.

Increased Accuracy and Early Detection:  

By merging Ultrasound’s structural insights with genetic data from NIPT, we significantly reduce false positives and offer more accurate results. As early as 10 weeks, when your baby is the size of a strawberry, we initiate the dual screening process. At this stage, we conduct the earliest possible structural anomaly scan, the Ten-week Anomaly Scan, to search for structural anomalies that NIPT can’t detect. We can rule out severe physical abnormalities like Acrania, Spina bifida, Absence of arms, hands, legs or feet, and Alobar holoprosencephaly. Only after confirming your baby’s structural development do we proceed with the NIPT test.


Ultrasound Screening: 

Ultrasound employs sound waves to create images of the baby in the womb. A small probe, called a transducer, moves over the mother’s abdomen. The transducer emits high-frequency sound waves that bounce off the baby’s structures, and these echoes are converted into images on a screen.

Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT): 

NIPT is a simple blood test taken from the expectant mother. This test detects tiny fragments of the baby’s DNA circulating in the mother’s bloodstream. By analysing these fragments, we can determine the risk of certain chromosomal conditions.

Is It Safe?

Absolutely. Both Ultrasound and NIPT are non-invasive and pose minimal to no risk to both mother and baby. However, it’s important to note that while NIPT is highly effective, it’s not a definitive diagnostic test. In cases of low negative predictive value, our doctors may recommend invasive tests like CVS or amniocentesis, which carry minimal miscarriage risk.

Our NIPT Options

As early as…
  • 10 weeks

  • 9 weeks

  • 10 weeks

Turnaround (Working Days)
  • 2-4

  • 5-7

  • 5-7

Lab Location
  • UK

  • US

  • US

No Call Results
  • <1%

  • <1%

  • <1%

Redraw Rate
  • 2%

  • 3%

  • 2%

Edward’, Patau & Down’s Syndrome
Di George Syndrome (22q del)
Turner Syndrome (45X)
Sex chromosomes aneuploidies
Twin pregnancies
  • Best

Vanishing twin syndrome
Fetal sex reveal (optional)
Scan + NIPT Price
  • £540

  • £540

  • £490

Extended NIPT + Scan Options
  • SMART Test £1690

  • Microdeletions £790

  • Rare Diseases £790

Other Early Ultrasound Screenings Offered

For those looking to delay their first scan, London Pregnancy Clinic offers pioneering Early Ultrasound Screenings, including the Early Fetal Scan conducted between 12 and 16 weeks, which can exclude more than one hundred serious anomalies. Additionally, our Early Fetal Echocardiography is designed to identify up to 80% of detectable severe fetal heart defects. It is a scan we highly recommend this scan for all babies with increased nuchal translucency (NT) measurements, fetal anomalies, or other unusual findings detected at 11-13 weeks scan.


At the London Pregnancy Clinic, we believe in providing the most comprehensive care possible. By endorsing the dual Ultrasound and NIPT approach, we ensure that our patients receive a detailed, accurate, and safe assessment of their baby’s health. Whether you choose the ten-week scan or another early anomaly scan, we’re here to guide and support you every step of the way.

If you have further questions or would like to schedule an NIPT and scan, please contact the London Pregnancy Clinic.

Book NIPT + Scan from £490

Latest Stories

Continue reading

Choosing the Best NIPT Clinic in London

Choosing the Best NIPT Clinic in London: A Comprehensive Guide for Expectant Parents



Congratulations on your pregnancy! As you embark on this exciting journey, it’s essential to prioritise your baby’s health and well-being. One crucial aspect of prenatal care is Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT), a revolutionary genetic screening tool that provides valuable information about your baby’s health. However, selecting the right clinic for this test, given the complexity of the test and the critical information it yields, requires careful consideration of various factors to ensure accurate results and proper management. In this article, we will explore the essential factors to consider when choosing the best NIPT clinics in the UK.

Expertise of Medical Professionals

One of the primary factors to consider is the expertise of the medical professionals running the clinic. Ideally, you should seek a clinic that is led by fetal medicine specialists. These specialists possess advanced knowledge in, antenatal care, fetal development, and genetics, ensuring you receive the most accurate and reliable information about your baby’s health.

NIPT Technology

The type of NIPT technology utilised by the clinic is a crucial factor in determining the accuracy of the results. Advanced technologies like Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) or Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) are preferred over outdated microarrays, as they offer greater sensitivity and precision.

Range of NIPT Options

An excellent NIPT clinic should offer a variety of test options to cater to individual needs. However, it is essential that they can explain the differences between the tests comprehensively. Furthermore, clinics that use multiple providers may offer a broader range of NIPT options, ensuring you receive the most suitable test for your specific circumstances.

NIPT Failure Rate

Inquire about the clinic’s NIPT failure rate or “no call” results. A high failure rate can lead to inconclusive outcomes, necessitating further testing and causing unnecessary stress. Check if the clinic has its own audits regarding performance of different brands of NIPT they use. Look for a clinic that uses a NIPT brands with low failure rate to increase the chances of obtaining reliable results.

Performance of Extended Options

If the clinic offers extended NIPT options, ensure they are aware of the test’s performance and validation studies including false negative and false positive rates. Additionally, verify that the clinic has robust referral pathways for genetic counselling and diagnostic testing to assist you in making informed decisions if further testing is required.

Before undergoing the extended NIPT, if you have specific concerns about rare genetic conditions like achondroplasia, DiGeorge syndrome, Noonan syndrome, or cystic fibrosis, it is crucial to contact the clinic beforehand. Ensure that the clinic offers the type of advanced NIPT that can detect these specific rare diseases. Not all advanced NIPT tests are created equal, and by reaching out to the clinic in advance, you can confirm whether they provide the extended NIPT options necessary to address your specific concerns. This proactive approach will help you make an informed decision and choose the most suitable clinic for your needs.

Pre NIPT Counselling and Scans

A reputable clinic should provide pre NIPT counselling that covers essential aspects such as the explanation of NIPT tests, failure rates, turnaround times, and more. Additionally, they should perform a comprehensive scan before the NIPT blood draw to rule out severe fetal anomalies. This step is crucial as it prevents unnecessary NIPT testing on a baby with lethal or severe structural (physical) anomalies. Remember that structural anomalies are more common than Down syndrome.

Ultrasound Technology

Inquire about the ultrasound technology used by the clinic for the scan before NIPT blood draw. Advanced high-resolution ultrasound scanners provide clearer images and a more accurate assessment of fetal health. Avoid clinics that use outdated or low-resolution scanners, as this may affect the quality and accuracy of the scans especially at early stages of gestation (10-11 weeks). Incorrect scan information can significantly affect NIPT performance.

NIPT + Scan Price

While price is an important consideration, it should not be the sole determining factor. Lower-priced clinics may compromise on overall performance, can use not clinically validated NIPT brands or uncertified NIPT laboratories and fail in providing care in the cases of abnormal or inconclusive results. This may lead to further unexpected testing expenses. On the other hand, some high prices may be due to the clinic’s premium location, which doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality of services provided.

Read more


Selecting the best NIPT clinic is a critical decision that directly impacts your baby’s health and your peace of mind during pregnancy. Look for a clinic led by fetal medicine specialists, equipped with state-of-the-art NIPT and ultrasound technology, and with a comprehensive range of test options. The clinic should prioritise pre NIPT counselling and baby’s ultrasound scanning to ensure you receive the most accurate and relevant information. Remember, the best clinic will prioritise the well-being of you and your baby, providing the support and care you need during this beautiful journey.

Latest Stories

Continue reading

UCLH: A Beacon of Excellence in Obstetrics and Gynaecology

UCLH: A Beacon of Excellence in Obstetrics and Gynaecology



University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) stands as a paragon of excellence in the healthcare sector, particularly in obstetrics and gynaecology. With a legacy rooted in innovation and top-tier medical services, UCLH has garnered global recognition, ranking among the world’s best in its field. Beyond its renowned maternity services and the esteemed Fetal Medicine Unit (FMU), UCLH’s partnership with the London Pregnancy Clinic showcases a team of distinguished professionals dedicated to women’s health. Together, they underscore UCLH’s unwavering commitment to providing unparalleled care for women at every life stage.

University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) has long been recognized as a leading institution in the realm of healthcare. With a rich history and a commitment to innovation and excellence, UCLH has consistently delivered top-tier medical services to its patients. One area where UCLH has particularly excelled is in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology.

Global Recognition

According to the Newsweek’s World’s Best Specialized Hospitals 2024 rankings, UCLH is among the top hospitals globally for obstetrics and gynaecology. This recognition is a testament to the hospital’s dedication to providing the best care for women at every stage of their lives.

Gynaecology at UCLH

The gynaecology service at UCLH offers a comprehensive range of treatments and services. From general gynaecological care to specialized treatments for conditions like endometriosis and fibroids, the department is equipped to handle a wide array of women’s health issues. The team also provides support for early pregnancy and acute gynaecological problems.

Maternity Services

UCLH’s maternity services are designed to support women throughout their pregnancy journey. The hospital offers everything from antenatal classes to postnatal support, ensuring that mothers and their babies receive the best care possible.

A standout feature of UCLH’s maternity services is the Fetal Medicine Unit (FMU). Led by a team of highly skilled specialists, the FMU offers diagnosis and treatment for complications that may arise in unborn babies. Recognized both nationally and internationally, the FMU sees over 7,000 patients each year, providing care in a supportive and professional environment.

A Rich History and a Bright Future

The University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has a storied history that dates back to the 18th century. Over the years, the trust has grown and evolved, incorporating various hospitals and expanding its range of services. Today, UCLH is not just a hospital but a conglomerate of medical institutions dedicated to research, teaching, and patient care.

In partnership with University College London, UCLH has major research activities, further cementing its reputation as a leading institution in the medical field. Each year, its hospitals treat over 500,000 outpatients and admit over 100,000 patients, showcasing the trust’s vast reach and impact.

The London Pregnancy Clinic Connection

At London Pregnancy Clinic, we are proud that many of our practitioners and support staff are either currently practicing at UCLH or have been trained there:

Dr. Fred Ushakov

Dr. Fred Ushakov is the Founder and Medical Director of the London Pregnancy Clinic. With over 35 years of medical experience, he specializes in fetal medicine and ultrasound. Notably, he is recognized as one of the most skilled ultrasound operators at the UCLH Fetal Medicine Unit. Dr. Ushakov’s contributions extend beyond clinical practice; he founded the London School of Ultrasound and the Early Fetal Scan Conference. His dedication to the field is evident in his role as an Ambassador of the International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (ISUOG) from 2014-2020.

Ms Shahrzad (Shaz) Khojasteh

Ms Shaz Khojasteh is a Specialist Sonographer in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. She completed her Master’s degree in Prenatal Genetics and Fetal Medicine at UCL in 2016 and underwent specialized training in Fetal Medicine Ultrasound at Kings College Hospital. Shaz has also received training in Fetal Echocardiography and has gained valuable experience in Early Pregnancy and Gynaecological ultrasound scanning.

Dr. Giovanni Granozio

Dr. Giovanni Granozio is a clinical fellow in fetal medicine at the Royal London Hospital and consults privately at the London Pregnancy Clinic. He specializes in pregnancy screening scans, particularly for pregnancies with fetal anomalies, growth-restricted babies, and twin pregnancies. Dr. Granozio graduated from the University of Salerno and later specialized in Gynaecology and Obstetrics at the University of Turin. He relocated to London in 2020 to further his training in Fetal Medicine and Obstetric Ultrasound at UCLH.

Dr. Daniel Stott

Mt Stott is a distinguished consultant in obstetrics, practicing at The Portland Hospital and University College Hospital London (UCLH). He has notably established a successful antenatal clinic for women with hypertension at UCLH and serves as the Trust’s clinical lead for foetal monitoring. Dr. Stott’s expertise lies in maternal and fetal medicine, with a particular focus on obstetric ultrasound scanning, prenatal diagnosis, and maternal medicine. He has a keen interest in pregnancies complicated by hypertension and in fetal medicine. His academic pursuits are evident in his role as an honorary lecturer at UCL and his extensive research publications in obstetric and gynaecology journals.

Latest Stories

Continue reading